Home health is still a prime target for business owners who want to bilk the government out of millions, as evidenced by several convictions and sentencings announced last week.
In Miami, Khaled Elbeblawy, the owner and manager of three home health agencies, was convicted of submitting approximately $57 million in false claims to Medicare for medically unnecessary services, according to the Department of Justice. Elbeblawy and his co-conspirators paid kickbacks to patient recruiters and billed the government for services that were never provided between January 2006 and May 2013. Medicare paid out approximately $40 million of the claims.
Meanwhile, another home health owner in New Jersey pleaded guilty to sending unqualified aides to patient homes and then submitting fraudulent bills to Medicare, racking up $7 million over four years, according to NJ.com. Paul Mil, the owner of People Choice Home Care Inc., conspired with another home health owner to submit false documentation to the New Jersey Board of Nursing to obtain certification for unqualified home health aides. The aides then fabricated patient records to make it appear they were providing home health services when they were at other jobs or on vacation, the website reported.
Finally, a Texas nurse and co-owner of Ultimate Care Home Health Services Inc. received a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for her role in a fraud scheme that billed Medicare for more than $43 million in unnecessary services, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Texas. Patricia Akamnonu, who owned the agency with her husband, Cyprian Akamnonu, participated in a scheme with a third conspirator, Dr. Jacques Roy, to recruit Medicare patients and submit claims for unnecessary services.
Home health fraud remains a hot issue for investigators and prosecutors throughout the country. Doctors and business owners in Detroit and New Orleans who were convicted of home health fraud have received stiff penalties for multi-million schemes. In September, two owners, four nurses and a marketer from a Chicago home health agency were indicted for paying kickbacks and altering patient records, which led to $6 million in fraudulent Medicare claims.
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